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NORCECA Continental gets underway in Omaha

Defending champions hosts USA opened with a cruising victory over Mexico at Ralston Arena in Omaha, Nebraska
Omaha, Nebraska, September 16, 2013 – Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and hosts United States opened with straight-set victories in the Visit Omaha NORCECA Women’s Continental Championship at Ralston Arena.

Puerto Rico beat St Lucia 25-8, 25-15, 25-12, Dominican Republic downed Costa Rica 25-13, 25-6, 25-20 while United States stopped Mexico 25-9, 25-12, 25-11.

The winners of the competition get a ticket to this year’s FIVB Grand Champions Cup in Nagoya and Tokyo in Japan next November.

 “We were excited to play the first game of the tournament,” Puerto Rico Captain Yarimar Rosa said. “I think in the second set we lost our focus. I think we underestimated them a little bit so we weren’t playing our best. That’s something that we have to get better at.” 

“We started slow at the beginning, but then we got into a rhythm,” Dominican Republic Captain Bethania De la Cruz said. “It was a great way to start out the tournament. We have seen Costa Rica plenty of times in different tournaments. But it’s good to see them again and they did put up a fight.”

“I thought we did a good job. We served really well, passed well and ran a fast offense, USA Captain Kristin Hillebrand said. “I thought a lot of people came off the bench and made great contributions.”

Puerto Rico 3, St Lucia 0
Puerto Rico overwhelmed St. Lucia 25-8, 25-15, 25-12. Karina Ocasio paced Puerto Rico with 10 points, while Lynda Morales matched her total with 10 points. St. Lucia captain Natalie Edward totaled six points in leading her team. Puerto Rico led every statistical category with a 43-15 margin in kills, 8-0 advantage in aces and 3-0 edge in blocks.

Dominican Republic 3, Costa Rica 0
Dominican Republic opened with a 25-13, 25-6, 25-20 victory over Costa Rica in a Pool A. The winners were led by Gina Mambru’s 11 points, while Yonkaira Pena totaled nine points. Costa Rica was paced by the captain Angela Willis Lindo and Paola Ramirez Vargas with seven points each. Dominican Republic out-served Costa Rica 8-3 and enjoyed a 7-2 margin in blocks. The victors also benefited by 19 Costa Rica errors while holdings their own mistakes to 12 for the match.

United States 3, Mexico 0
United States, ranked second in the world, opened strong with a 25-9, 25-12, 25-11 victory over Mexico Monday evening in Pool B. Kelly Murphy charted a match-high 14 points to lead the United States. Local favorite Jordan Larson-Burbach tallied 11 points in the victory, while Christa Harmotto scored six blocks as part of 10 total points. Andrea Rangel led a young Mexico roster with six points. The United States out-blocked Mexico 9-2 and notched a commanding 43-17 margin in kills. The reigning Olympic silver medalists also produced a 6-2 advantage in aces.

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